Home News > January 2018 > A SWA wine wish list for 2018... by Chris Losh

Last year was probably the most wide-ranging in terms of wine styles that we’ve ever had in SWA. Not just because we received entries from places like China, Georgia and Kazakhstan, but because we had stimulating examples from some of the lesser-known areas of our usual producer countries as well.

It was really encouraging, for instance, to see a really good performance from Spain’s north-west. The wines from Galicia are so somm-friendly, it was great to get a strong entry, and no surprise that the region picked up a lot of medals. We’d like to see that performance repeated in 2018 – maybe with some more entries from the likes of Ribeiro and Ribeira Sacra as well.

Elsewhere in Europe, we’ll be looking for another strong performance from Italy and hoping that Chablis can continue its strong run of form. Bordeaux, too, had its best SWA year ever last year and we’d love that to continue in 2018.

In terms of ‘less usual’ entries, Greece is now pretty well established in this competition, but the reds could do with stepping up a few notches if they are to match the amazing performance of the whites year after year. And places like Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania are starting to appear on our radar, too. Can they build on the feedback from the early scouting parties and pick up a headline-grabbing amount of medals for the first time?

The New World excitement has been built on a combination of classic styles (like Kiwi Sauvignon, Mendoza Malbec and Aussie Shiraz) and fashionable areas or styles of genuine excitement such as Swartland blends or Californian Pinot Noir. Our judges have shown themselves to be commendably open-minded with all this stuff, and prepared to reward expensive wines provided they think they justify the price tag. Value for money is hugely important in SWA, but that doesn’t necessarily mean cheap, and it’d be good to see more of the upper end New World engaging with the competition.

SWA is a competition that has very few ‘holes’ now – we tend to get really impressive entries from all the key wine styles. But there are a few puzzling exceptions. Sherry, for instance, remains oddly underpowered year after year, while Germany, Austria and Alsace typically send in entries that are much smaller than we’d expect. We know that our tasters adore all these wines, so it seems odd that the wine producers should pass up an open goal.

So we can only say don’t be so shy - send them in! After all, don’t forget that SWA is the best way to the heart of the UK on-trade…